BHM: Black Hair and Political Statements

The idea that Black hair, in its natural state, is considered "revolutionary" is a very odd one, indeed. But in the context of our history in America, it makes perfect sense. When the first generation of African slaves landed in America, they'd been accustomed to carefully treating their hair with herbs, creating elaborate conrowed styles and grooming their kinks with carved wooden combs (thought to be weapons, they were discarded on the slave ships). On American soil, unable to care for their hair the same way, women began wearing rags to cover head sores and bald spots. Their kinks became a source of shame. And as young slave women began giving birth to half-white babies, their longer-haired offspring were considered better, prettier, more civilized. The idea that "white is right" was so embedded in the country's DNA that, by the time the Black is Beautiful movement hit in the 60s--and women proudly rocked afros and braids--the simple act of embracing the hair that grows out of our heads was considered a revolutionary statement. These days, we'd like to think that the decision to relax our hair, wear it natural, or weave it up is about the freedom of choice, not a political statement. But when dreadlocks can still prevent women from reaching the top of certain industries, we can't help but think we've still got a long way to go. In celebration of Black History Month, lets take a look back at some notable moments in the history of revolutionary hair.

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